Project Description

No kidding, up and running in only a few minutes. After screwing in the bulbs and connecting the bridge into my wireless router, my journey with Philips hue began with ease. I’d say the company has made it as easy as plugging in your household landline telephone (for those of you who still remember those ancient devices).

The Philips hue starter kit comes with the Bridge, a power cord, Ethernet cable, and three light bulbs. Each light bulb is rated at 8.5 watts, 600 lumen, lasting for 15,000 hours, according to Philips. Philips hue allows you to not only to turn the light on and off from anywhere using an iOS or Android device, but also to choose from a wide range of colors. If you are willing to pay the $200 price tag for the starter kit, plus another $60 per additional bulb, then this is the system for you.

While testing Philips hue, there were a few things I came across, both good and bad. For example, the system leverages ZigBee standards, which allows the hue to work with many third-party applications. But this is where it gets tricky. These extra applications all come with an additional pricetag. So you have to pay! Whereas some features are pretty cool and may be worth spending the money on, features like a color cycle should come standard in the hue app (it doesn’t).

Hue Party is an app that allows your device to “listen” to music being played, and flash colors according to the beat of the song. The free version of this app only allows for two bulbs. After that you are asked to pay $2.99 to use the rest.

Philips hue also features a timer and alarm function. First you need to set up an account at While away from home, you can set timers that turn your lights on and off automatically, rather than requiring you to go in and manually perform this function remotely each time. The appeal from a security standpoint here is obvious: It gives your home look as if it’s occupied, even when it’s not. This could come in handy for deterring burglars and any other unwanted visitors. For adults with kids, the timer function could come in handy for signaling that it’s time for bed and the lights need to be turned off.

What I would like to see from Philips hue are lights that work outdoors. Despite the recommendation I received from Philips hue support not to use the light bulbs outside, I decided to put the lights outside by my pool. It created a great scene of colors and it looked great. The only problem I found was the inability to properly connect to the bridge due to poor Wi-Fi connection. This meant it would not work all the time. I was just keeping my fingers crossed the bulbs didn’t get wet.

Speaking to the Wi-Fi issue, there always seems to be that one dead spot in your home. Of course, you have the option of purchasing signal-range extenders, but that means spending even more money.

To this challenge, I say simply add more light bulbs. Each one acts like a mini signal repeater and carries the Wi-Fi across to other bulbs. Of course, there is always the possibility that your Wi-Fi goes down completely. Well, it looks like we are back to the Stone Age, which means I have to get off the couch and hit the switch. Although you won’t have all the cool colors (every time you turn off the switch they reset back to a bright white color) you will have light—and I guess that is most important.

You can connect 50 bulbs per bridge. While 50 may seem like a lot, it might not be enough to light a whole home. I know in my house I have more than 50 lights in the basement alone. But then again, I don’t think I need colored lighting to go to the bathroom, or in my closet. So we can skip those bulbs.

Another thing to consider is the fact you cannot control two bridges from the same app. You can have multiple bridges plugged into your home router, but this requires you to sign out in order to sign back into the other bridge.

Personalized light recipes are also a cool function of hue. You can take photos and then use them to recreate scenes and moods from the past. You can also upload your light recipes online and share them with the hue community, as well as take recipes from others and sync them to your device, all from your computer via the Website.

The uses for Philips hue are endless. From setting the right mood with light recipes to security, the system offers some great options. Getting about 15 years out of each bulb and saving 80% on energy is definitely appealing.

Overall I’d say this product is just fun to play with. I couldn’t help but freak out my mother by turning the lights on and off when I was away from home. For that alone, Philips hue might be worth your investment.